The Class of ’62 has taken to heart Pope Francis’ message of equality and generosity to those in need. Five years ago, in celebration of their 50th reunion, they established the Pope Francis Fund to assist Jr. Bills who may miss out on co-curricular and social opportunities because they cannot afford to participate in them.
“The unique prospect of supporting students directly in a non-tuition, non-operating expense, non-brick and mortar manner drove us to accept the challenge with enthusiasm,” says Rick Weber ’62, who helped lead his class fundraising effort. He adds that Pete Palumbo ’62 suggested that the class name the Pope Francis Fund after the then-newly elected Jesuit Pope who had demonstrated a preference for equality.
This fall at their 55th reunion, the Class of ’62 celebrated the completion of underwriting the Pope Francis Fund. “Although the $250,000 endowment figure was a daunting amount, we persisted,” says Weber. “We were bolstered by stories of ways the students were being helped.”
The Pope Francis Fund has provided Jr. Bills the opportunity to attend academic-related trips, like those to France, Russia, New York City (Jr. Bills on Wall Street) and New Orleans (music), in addition to purchasing a class ring, renting a tuxedo for Senior Prom, and participating in a club sport.
Each of these opportunities provides a better, more inclusive experience for the entire SLUH community. They are also living examples of how a thoughtful and generous group of alumni are fulfilling Pope Francis’ plea “to live the virtue of generosity, to love without limits.”